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Allergies or COVID-19? How to tell what’s causing your symptoms

Health

Allergies or COVID-19? How to tell what’s causing your symptoms

Spring has sprung and the pollen is flying, which means plenty of people are coughing, congested and feeling fatigued – all symptoms that can point to allergies or COVID-19.
Even as COVID-19 vaccination numbers climb, public health experts warn we’re not out of the woods yet. So, how can you distinguish between seasonal allergies and COVID-19?

First step

The first step is to take a close look at the symptoms you are experiencing, says Dr. William Jackson Epperson, family medicine physician at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Prince Creek and medical director of primary care at Tidelands Health.
If you are suffering from fever, chills, muscle aches, diarrhea or nausea, that’s an indication you may have COVID-19 or another illness rather than allergies, which typically do not cause those symptoms.

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Similarly, it’s uncommon for people with COVID-19 to experience sneezing, itchy or watery eyes – all common allergy symptoms.
Although allergies and COVID-19 can both cause a cough, the cough caused by allergies is often wetter – more like a sneeze – than the dry cough generally associated with COVID-19.

Other factors

“Another point to consider is whether you have a history of seasonal allergies,” Dr. Epperson says. “If so, and you’re experiencing symptoms similar to past years, that’s a good indicator that your allergies may have returned.”
If taking an allergy medication improves your condition, that’s also a good sign your symptoms are caused by allergies rather than COVID-19 or another type of illness, Dr. Epperson says.

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Of course, if you have questions or concerns about what’s causing your symptoms, reach out to your physician or another qualified care provider for guidance, Dr. Epperson says.
Some measures in place to protect against COVID-19, such as wearing a mask and practicing good hand hygiene, can also help address allergy symptoms by reducing pollen exposure, Dr. Epperson says. Be sure to wash cloth face masks regularly to clear them of pollen particles.

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